Death ravishes life and leaves a wake of pain and framed memories. Framed in the relationship of those who died.
I just read the letter Francis Schaeffer's son, Frank, wrote to his mother on the occasion of her passing. Here it is Letter to my Mother if you want to read it. It is one of sweet memories and of a long life. His mother lived until she was 98. That is a pretty long time. My own mother died when she was 59. Lung cancer after 45 or so years of smoking took her life. It was a time of chaos and regrets. One in which I was able to see her come to the Lord, and I helped into the baptismal pool, to be baptized. It is a time I remember full of shock at how quickly she was debilitated and resentment that she was dying. But it was also one of knowing that she had not been the picture perfect mother I wished she had been. That was hard to handle while being her sole caretaker. She had broken relationships with all of her family and there was only me left. She and I had been on shaky ground for years. She didn't like my husband and she was right, that he was wrong for me, but for the wrong reasons. Being so young with a young child myself, and trying to work full time with a rocky marriage, proved to be devastating when she dies sooner than even the doctor's predicted. So, although I was blessed with one of my Pastor's at the time assuring me that she understood and received forgiveness, we were not able to really fix our relationship.
I had always been close with my mother growing up and throughout my crazy and wild teen years and college days, we remained close. But as I grew up and went into the world, my brother continued to be involved with drugs and that life, while dragging my mother into his life. Not as a participant but she became a co dependent. She enabled him and I resented that. So I withdrew from their lives and built my own, only allowing my mother in when my brother was not around. She repeatedly chose him over me and my son, and I resented her. So when the sickness came and he was in jail, there was only me. And I am glad that I was able to care for her. Now I have regrets, but not that.
Now I am faced with someone I love very dearly losing her mother. Her mother is 63. She is dying from pancreatic cancer. It is painful to watch. My brother ended up dying from pancreatic cancer at age 43. So, I am familiar with the pattern it takes.
My friend's mother has just been given 8 weeks left to live. I know that this is going to be very hard for me but it is going to be devastating and life changing for my dear friend. Because this mother, is a godly mother. This mother is the mother we all wish we had.
My friend's mother was there when I was saved, she was there when my mother got sick and she was there when I went into the baptismal with her. She was there when my brother died. She was there through the births of my 2 daughters. She has always been there with godly advice and a sweet demeanor, joyous smile and devotion to her grandchildren. Three of whom are my daughters best friends.
I am going to have to be there for my friend, and I am going to have to be there for my daughters as they attempt to comfort her granddaughters. They are all under the age of 13. I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to comfort her from so great a loss. Our whole community is in shock. When I say this woman is special, I mean that she is one of those women who touch everyone's lives with such grace and genuine love. Her faith is so deep that you can swim in it. Her life one of such grace that it shines with a light of its own. How will I live up to this task?
I know that the Lord said it is "precious in His sight is the death of His saints" Ps 116:15, but it is so painful to have her leave our presence. And to comfort those whose lives will never be the same, the place she held can never be filled and will always be missed. How deeply will we need the strength of our Lord. How wonderful and comforting it will be to know that we will see her again. She will be with Him the moment of her death because in 2 Corinthians 5:8 we are given the promise of where she will be at the moment of death. But we will feel her absence until we are with Him also.
I wonder if these are the things that will make us long even more for the time when Christ returns? I know it must be so. Dearest Lord, let this time we have be precious together, and give me the words, the actions to comfort those she leaves behind. Do not let me disappoint you Lord.